Staff and Boards

PLATO’s Board of Directors is the fiduciary, governing, policy-making body responsible for PLATO’s overall management. 

The mission of PLATO’s Academic Advisory Board is to contribute to developing and sustaining PLATO’s educational programs.

The Student Advisory Council is made up of younger philosophers interested in assuming leadership roles at PLATO. The Council is working to improve access to philosophical education.

Members of PLATO’s Founders Circle were part of PLATO’s founding Board of Directors and continue to support PLATO’s programs and initiatives.

Jana Mohr Lone
Executive Director
Allison Cohen
President
Arik Ben-Avi
Karen Emmerman
Education Director
Roberta Israeloff
Vice-President
Steven Goldberg
Debi Talukdar
Program Director
Kelly Laas
Secretary
Mitch Green
Kate Goldyn
Outreach Coordinator
Stephen Miller
Treasurer
Joseph Oyler
Alexander Chen
Ariel Sykes
Academic Advisory Board Chair
Thomas Wartenberg
Polly Hunter
Board Member
Charles de Bellay
Jill Lawrence
Board Member
Deborah S. Mower
Board Member
Kyle Roberson
Michael Burroughs
David Shapiro
Board Member
Alex Chang
Annamaria Flausina
Zoë Henry
Christiane Wisehart
Board Member
Marisa Diaz-Waian
Madeline Fox
George Jabren
Cassie Finley
Gayatri Kaimal
Yunah Kwon
Jack Nicholson
Claire Katz
Kishi Oyagi
Erik Kenyon
Colin Pierce
John Torrey
Wendy Turgeon
Michael Vazquez
Wendy Way
Dustin Webster

Jana Mohr Lone is the co-founder of PLATO and for many years was the director of the University of Washington Center for Philosophy for Children, before its 2022 merger with PLATO. She is Affiliate Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Washington, and the author of the books Seen and Not Heard (2021) and The Philosophical Child (2012); co-author of the textbook Philosophy in Education: Questioning and Dialogue in Schools (2016); co-editor of Philosophy and Education: Introducing Philosophy to Young People (2012); and author of many articles about young people’s philosophical thinking. Jana has been leading philosophy sessions with students from preschool to graduate school for 25 years. She lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington.
https://phil.washington.edu/people/jana-mohr-lone

Allison Cohen is an Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Philosophy teacher at Langley High School in McLean, VA. She is dedicated to bringing quality philosophy curricula to high schools across the nation and expanding opportunities for students to engage in philosophical questioning and reasoning. Allison has presented papers at several national conferences on topics such as: critical thinking, argument diagramming, affirmative action, and genetic enhancement. She is an adjunct professor at American University where she teaches Essentials of Effective Instruction for the Department of Education. Allison also serves on the Board of Directors for Street Law, a national nonprofit committed to preserving and enhancing civics education in our schools, and the Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum. 
Allison's resume

 

Arik Ben-Avi is a Seattle-based educator, writing coach, and content developer, working to help young people connect more deeply with themselves and others through the kind of honest reflection and dialogue that’s supported by good philosophy. Before moving to Seattle, Arik received an M.Phil. in Philosophy from Yale University, focusing on ethics and moral psychology, with a particular interest in forgiveness and acceptance. Arik’s involvement in pre-college philosophy began when he co-founded the Yale Philosophy Outreach Program, and his interest in making philosophy engaging and accessible to learners of all ages continues as Associate Director for Wireless Philosophy.

 

Karen S. Emmerman was the Education Director of the University of Washington Center for Philosophy for Children, which merged with PLATO in 2022. She started teaching philosophy classes at John Muir Elementary in Seattle in 2010 and has worked as their Philosopher-in-Residence since 2013. Karen taught a high school philosophy class and has facilitated teacher trainings in pre-college philosophy for many years. She teaches a course in philosophy for children at the University of Washington and mentors graduate and undergraduate students. Karen is part-time faculty in the philosophy department at the University of Washington and writes in ecofeminism, animal ethics, and philosophy for children as well as serving as associate editor of the journal Precollege Philosophy and Public Practice.
KarenSEmmerman.com

Roberta Israeloff has directed the Squire Family Foundation since its inception in 2007. The Foundation advocates for the inclusion of philosophy in elementary and secondary schools, and co-founded both PLATO and the National High School Ethics Bowl. She co-edited Philosophy and Education: Introducing Philosophy to Young People, and is on the editorial board of Precollege Philosophy and Public Practice. In her thirty-five-year writing career, she has published numerous essays, short stories, book reviews, and books including, mostly recently, The Ethics Bowl Way: Answering Questions, Questioning Answers, and Creating Ethical Communities, co-edited with Karen Mizell.
Roberta's resume

Steven Goldberg teaches philosophy at Harper College and at Northwestern University’s Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning. He taught history and philosophy over three decades at Oak Park River Forest High School. He also taught A-Level philosophy in England during a Fulbright teaching exchange, developed and taught a summer program for high school students at Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development, and led workshops on teaching philosophy at University of Chicago’s Graham School. Goldberg also served on the APA’s CPIP Committee. He is the author of Two Patterns of Rationality in Freud’s Writings (University of Alabama Press, 1988) and co-editor of Technological Change and the Transformation of America (Southern Illinois University Press, 1987). In 2005 he received the National Council on Social Studies Award for Global Understanding.

Debi Talukdar was previously Program Director at the University of Washington Center for Philosophy for Children before it merged with PLATO in 2022. She has been facilitating K-12 philosophy classes since 2014 and was the Philosopher-in-Residence at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, Seattle, from 2018-2021. She also facilitates educator workshops and organizes a monthly seminar for individuals interested in philosophy with young people. Debi is a former instructor at the University of Washington College of Education and former ensemble member at Theater for Change UW. She currently lives in Oakland, CA.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/debi-talukdar-35412345/ 

 

Kelly Laas is the Librarian of the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions at the Illinois Institute of Technology. She works on developing resources and strategies to help integrate ethics into university-level courses and research projects in engineering and the sciences. She is also currently the Upper Midwest Regional Representative for the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl and has worked extensively with colleagues from the Chicago area to help organize the Chicago High School Ethics Bowl. Kelly is also the managing editor of PLATO's journal Precollege Philosophy and Public Practice (P4).
https://ethics.iit.edu/about/kelly-laas

 

 

Mitch Green is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Connecticut. He received a BA from UC Berkeley, a B.Phil. from Oxford University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. He has published around ninety articles in journals, encyclopedias, or as book chapters, as well as five books including Engaging Philosophy: A Brief Introduction; Know Thyself: The Value and Limits of Self-Knowledgeand The Philosophy of Language. Since 2008 he has led Project High-Phi, which supports philosophical exploration in American high schools. Currently he oversees teachers in Connecticut who offer dual-enrollment philosophy courses in their schools whereby students earn both high school and college credit.

 

Kate Goldyn is the outreach coordinator for the University of Washington Department of Philosophy, and for the former UW Center for Philosophy for Children which has merged with PLATO. She enjoys sharing with others the importance of philosophy and how relevant it is to everything we do. She makes sure to take time to wonder with her three children and ask why questions

Stephen Kekoa Miller, Humanities Department chair at Oakwood Friends School and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Marist College, has taught philosophy for the past 20 years in Poughkeepsie NY. Stephen has developed a wide range of courses from middle school philosophy through upper-level college courses, and a philosophy series for parents and community members.  Stephen’s research interests lately have included pre-college philosophy, philosophy of education, virtue ethics and philosophy of emotion.  Stephen is also the Chair of the APA's Committee on Precollege Instruction in Philosophy.  Stephen served on the Teachers Advisory Council of the National Humanities Center. He is the editor of Intentional Disruptions (Vernon, 2021). 
Stephen’s Resume

Joe Oyler is Assistant Professor of Teacher Education at Maynooth University where he coordinates the department’s initial teacher education programme and teaches courses in Philosophy of Education, Pedagogy, and Educational Research Methods. His research focuses on the role of the facilitator in dialogic pedagogies. Joe completed his doctorate in Pedagogy and Philosophy at Montclair State University where is also worked extensively with the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children (IAPC) conducting philosophy sessions in schools, coordinating teachers support services and mentoring practitioners. It is through his work with the IAPC that Joe became involved with the development of PLATO.  

Alexander Chen is a junior at Archmere Academy. Alex began reading philosophy in 9th grade, starting with Aurelius' Meditations and the Tao Te Ching. He enjoys browsing online classic libraries, studying business, and competing in mathematics and Model United Nations. Outside of school, Alex can be found playing table tennis or reading science fiction and philosophy books. Alex is a 2022 Coolidge Senator, a Scholastic Gold Medalist, and the President of Archmere's Model UN Club.

Ariel Sykes is the Assistant Director of the Ethics Institute at Kent Place School. She has worked in the philosophy for children commuity for over ten years and specializes in dialogic teaching strategies, argumentation, and ethics instruction. She recieved her B.A from Mount Holyoke College and her M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University in the field of Philosophy and Education. Ariel is the co-founder of the New York City High School Ethics Bowl and an endorsed practioner of the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children.

Thomas E. Wartenberg is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Mount Holyoke College. He is a former board president of PLATO. Among his publications are Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy Through Children’s Literature, A Sneetch is a Sneetch and Other Philosophical Discoveries: Finding Wisdom in Children’s Literature, and Thinking Through Stories: Philosophy, Children, and Picture Books. His philosophy for children website, teachingchildrenphilosophy.org, was awarded the 2011 APA/PDC Prize for Excellence and Innovations in Philosophy Programs. He received the 2013 Merritt Prize from Northern Illinois University for his contributions to the philosophy of education.

Polly Hunter is a Senior Director of Development for UVA Health. She has worked at the UVA Health Foundation since 2013, and for nine years oversaw the fundraising programs for UVA Children’s and Women’s Health. Prior to moving back to Charlottesville, Virginia, Polly worked as a major gift officer at the University of Washington and managed the development program at Seattle Arts & Lectures, a nationally renowned literary arts nonprofit. Polly also serves on the Fralin Art Museum Volunteer Board at UVA.  

Charlie is a Franco-American student at the Lycée Français de San Francisco. He is interested in philosophy and ethics, notably Nietsche. 

Jill Lawrence is a columnist whose previous positions include commentary editor and national political correspondent at USA Today, columnist for U.S. News and World Report and Creators Syndicate, managing editor for politics at the National Journal, and national political writer for The Associated Press. She is the author of The Art of the Political Deal: How Congress Beat the Odds and Broke Through Gridlock (2017) and “One Nation, Divided," a 2002 USA Today series about Montclair, N.J., and Franklin, Tenn., inspired by the stalemated 2000 election. Her work has appeared in many publications and has been honored by, among others, the National Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists. 
http://jilllawrence.com

Deborah S. Mower, founding Director of The Center for Practical Ethics, is the Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Hume Bryant Professor of Ethics, and an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Mississippi. She is on the Board of Directors for the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, and was a former President of the Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum. Specializing in moral psychology, applied ethics and public policy, and moral education, she co-edited Civility in Politics and Education (with Wade Robison, 2012) and Developing Moral Sensitivity (with Wade Robison and Phyllis Vandenberg,  2015). With a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, she co-directed a Summer Institute on Moral Psychology and Education (2016). https://www.deborahmower.com

 

Kyle Robertson is a Continuing Lecturer in the UC Santa Cruz philosophy and legal studies departments and the Managing Director of the Center for Public Philosophy at UC Santa Cruz, which he helped found in 2015. He founded and directs the Northern California High School Ethics Bowl program, teaches as part of Mount Tamalpais College at San Quentin State Prison, and regularly speaks and publishes on public philosophy.

Michael D. Burroughs is Director of the Kegley Institute of Ethics and Associate Professor of Philosophy at California State University, Bakersfield. He also serves as vice president of the Public Philosophy Network and as founding editor of Precollege Philosophy and Public Practice. As a public philosopher, Michael works to support and introduce ethics and philosophy in K–12 schools, prisons, community organizations, and many other locations. He is also a widely published researcher on topics in public philosophy, ethics, education, and childhood, including a co-authored book, Philosophy in Education: Questioning and Dialogue in Schools.

David Shapiro is a faculty member at Cascadia College, where he teaches college philosophy classes that draw heavily upon his experiences and lesson plans for doing philosophy with pre-college students. He has been doing philosophy with young people in and around the Seattle area since he was a graduate student at the University of Washington way back in the 20th century. David is the author and/or co-author of six books, including Plato Was Wrong! Footnotes on Doing Philosophy with Young People, a compendium of activities, exercises, and games he has developed for exploring philosophical questions in the classroom and beyond.

Alexandra Chang is a middle school English teacher in Michigan. Previously, she taught for four years in Boston Public Schools. Alex studied philosophy and education at Carleton College, where she first began teaching philosophy in local schools. As a teacher, Alex continues to develop philosophy lesson plans for middle school students, as well as consider the intersection between philosophy, social-emotional learning, and restorative practices. Most recently, Alex has collaborated with A2Ethics in Ann Arbor to develop a workshop for local teachers interested in expanding the use of philosophy in their core classes.

Anna Maria is 16 years old. She is from Philadelphia and is a junior at the Academy at Palumbo. Anna Maria became interested in philosophy through high school ethics bowl.  

Zoë (she/they) is a senior at Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie, NY. She’s always been interested in both gender studies and philosophy, and has taken a variety of philosophy/ethics classes throughout all four years of highschool to cultivate the latter interest. In addition to philosophy and gender studies, Zoë is passionate about the humanities in general.

 

Christiane Wisehart is the Associate Director of Content at The Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics at DePauw University. In collaboration with the community engagement team, she developed a robust K-12 ethics education initiative in 2019. As part of this ongoing work, she runs creative workshops (also known as design sprints) and advises the content development team to create accessible, practical, and engaging ethics education classroom materials. Christiane is also the host and producer of the Examining Ethics podcast. While she has experience engaging and communicating with a variety of audiences, she focuses most of her projects on K-12 outreach and on reaching the general public with ethics education content. 
https://zety.com/profile/2564-220107131240

Marisa Diaz-Waian chairs the PLATO Education Committee. She is the founder and director of Merlin CCC – a public philosophy non-profit in Helena, MT. A community philosopher and generalist by nature, training, and practice, Marisa happily hangs her hat at Merlin Nature Preserve where she lives and serves as its trustee and steward. She has a special interest in ethics, ancient philosophy, existentialism, humor, and “fuzzy” topics at the intersection of philosophy and psychology. Her work focuses on philosophy in the community, frequently with an interdisciplinary, environmental, and intergenerational bent.  

Madeline is a Junior at Lincoln High School in Seattle, WA. Her interests in philosophy started after she was introduced to a few problems in her seventh grade language arts class. She has taken multiple classes on philosophy and ethics, and she is currently president of her high school's ethics club. Madeline most enjoys ethics, especially in the contexts of works of fiction, or in modern day problems.

George Jabren is a junior at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the president of his school’s philosophy club and a member of his schools policy debate team. George also started his school’s philosophy reading club, and is founding an Ethics Bowl team this year.  He particularly enjoys reading postmodern theories: notably, those relating to international relations for their applications in policy debate as well. Additionally, George is a flutist, playing in local wind ensembles. 

Cassie Finley is a PhD candidate in philosophy at the University of Iowa. She is the director of the Iowa Lyceum, a free precollege philosophy summer program run by University of Iowa graduate students. She has published on the Iowa Lyceum and graduate student education, and has current projects in public and precollege philosophy in the works. She also developed (with Jen Foster, USC) the free public philosophy workshop series, “Cogtweeto.” Her research interests include virtue education, metaphilosophy, social epistemology, ancient Greek philosophy, and philosophy of technology.

Gayathri Kaimal (she/her) is a senior at Wilton High School in Wilton, Connecticut. Her passion for Ancient Greek and Latin, along with her love for debate, led her to philosophy. She is particularly fascinated by Ancient ethics and logic, and their connection to the modern day. Through her work at PLATO, Gayathri hopes to expand access to pre-college philosophy.

Yunah is a junior at Centennial High School, MD. She became interested in philosophy through existentialism and ethics bowl. In addition to learning about the humanities, she also enjoys playing music, and hopes to explore ethnomusicology.

Jack Nicholson is a rising senior at University Liggett, and has served on Liggett’s Ethics Bowl team for three years. He has taken multiple classes on ethics and philosophy, including one from Syracuse University. He enjoys a good book, along with many other types of media, almost as much as he enjoys a good exchange of ideas.

Claire Katz is Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs at Texas A&M University, where she is a Professor of Philosophy. She also holds the Murray and Celeste Fasken Chair in Distinguished Teaching and was named a Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence. She conducts research and teaches courses at the intersection of philosophy, education, gender, and Jewish studies. She recently published Growing Up with Philosophy Camp: How Learning to Think Develops Friendship, Community, and a Sense of Self (R&L, 2020) and Philosophy Camps for Youth (R&L 2021). She founded/directs P4C Texas and the Aggie School of Athens Philosophy Summer Camp for Teens.

Kishi is an 11th grader at Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie, NY. They are sixteen and became interested in philosophy through 8th grade debate club and classes they took at Oakwood. They are mainly interested in ethics and epistemology.  

Erik Kenyon, a classicist with a specialty in ancient philosophical dialogue, is author of Augustine and the Dialogue (Cambridge University Press, 2018) and co-author of Ethics for the Very Young (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019). He taught for eight years at Rollins College. Since 2020, he has taught middle-school Latin and Humanities at Friends Academy, Dartmouth, MA, where he is helping integrate ethical reasoning into the curriculum. Erik serves on the board of the National Middle School Ethics Bowl. He is currently translating a collection of Greek and Latin philosophical texts for young readers.

Colin Pierce has been an educator for 14 years and is a passionate advocate for equity in education and elevating youth voice and agency in the matters most important to them. He taught at Rainier Beach High School in south Seattle for eight years and coached teams in the Washington State Ethics Bowl for seven. Born in Oakland, California, he received his Bachelor's degree from Sarah Lawrence College and his Master of Arts in Teaching from Lewis & Clark College. He currently works for the City of Seattle's Department of Education and Early Learning and serves on the Washington State Leadership Board, among other volunteer activities. 

John Torrey is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Provost Doctoral Fellow at SUNY Buffalo State. He holds a BA in Philosophy and Spanish from Morehouse College and an MA in Philosophy from the University of Memphis and is currently completing his Ph. D at the University of Memphis. His research interests are in African-American philosophy, specifically how social recognition impacts moral rights possession in order to explain why claims to rectify unjust harms against African-Americans continue to be ignored, social and political philosophy, applied ethics, as well as diversifying professional philosophy and the philosophical canon.  He has previously served as a coordinator with the precollege philosophy program at University of Memphis, Philosophical Horizons.

Specializing in philosophy for children and the history of philosophy, Wendy C. Turgeon is presently the chair of the Department of Philosophy at St. Joseph’s College, where she has been teaching courses since 1991. One of the leading proponents of the freshman honors program, Dr. Turgeon coordinates the program in addition to teaching one of its core courses. She has also incorporated global education into many of the philosophy classes at the College and is a passionate advocate for study abroad. Dr. Turgeon was also instrumental in creating the College’s minor in women’s studies.

Michael Vazquez is Teaching Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Director of Outreach at the Parr Center for Ethics. He is also a lecturer on the Social Foundations of Education for Penn’s Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership. He received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania in May 2020. Michael specializes in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. He also draws actively on his community engagement efforts to conduct research in philosophy of education and to develop innovative practices for the teaching and learning of philosophy.

Wendy Way is a social studies teacher at Bethpage High School, a public school on Long Island. She has taught world history at BHS for 27 years and has taught a philosophy elective for the last 20 years. Wendy is also the advisor for the philosophy club and is the coach for her school’s ethics bowl team. She enjoys attending the bi-annual PLATO conferences and is always looking for ways to expand the philosophy curriculum and find engaging ways to introduce philosophical concepts to students.

Dustin Webster is a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education where he studies the philosophy of education. He has a professional background in K-12 education with experience in a variety of contexts, including most recently as a 5th grade teacher. In addition to engaging K-12 students in philosophy, Dustin’s interests include character and virtue education, educational ethics, and education and social mobility. Dustin’s educational background includes an M.A. in Philosophy and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Masters in Law from The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.